Woodbury Bulletin: ‘A Christmas Story’ hitting stage with Woodbury actors

Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin 11/21/14

Every family has their own Christmas story, but there is one that has found its way into hearts of many every holiday season.

“Follow Ralphie Parker’s desperate quest to ensure that the most perfect of gifts, an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle, ends up under his tree this Christmas,” reads the description of the enduring plot from “A Christmas Story.”

Two Woodbury actors will help bring the beloved Christmas classic to life when they appear in “A Christmas Story,” which will run Nov. 29 to Dec. 28 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul.

Lake Middle School sixth grader Carter Bannwarth will play the role of “Schwartz,” a friend of Ralphie’s, and Mario Esteb, a fifth grader at St. Pascal Baylon School in St. Paul, will portray “Dill,” the toadie to bully Scott Farkus.

“My grandpa loves the movie,” Bannwarth said. “It’s so funny.”

Both Esteb and Bannwarth are no strangers to the stage, having appeared in various performances with Woodbury Community Theatre and Ashland Productions. Bannwarth is in his fourth year in theater while Esteb is in his first.

Additionally, both Esteb and Bannwarth are heavily involved with dance – Esteb with Delmonico Dance and Bannwarth with Woodbury Dance Center.

Esteb and Bannwarth both agree that their favorite aspect of being involved with theater, and dance, is the friends they are able to meet.

“It’s fun to hang with friends and do theater with friends,” Bannwarth said. “Theater is really fun.”

“I like being with friends and meeting new people,” Esteb said.

Both Esteb and Bannwarth were inspired to audition for “A Christmas Story” by others.

“My dance teacher set me up and I didn’t know anything about it,” Esteb said.

“My mom saw this online and she said ‘OK, let’s do this,’” Bannwarth said.

The audition process for “A Christmas Story” was a long process for the two young actors with the first round of auditions occurring in the spring and then consecutive auditions throughout the summer before learning of their casting in September.

“I was very nervous,” Esteb said.

Certain aspects of “A Christmas Story” have proven challenging for Esteb and Bannwarth, specifically time management.

“I usually have dance twice a week,” Esteb said, “but now I never go.”

“Homework is another challenge,” Bannwarth said.

Additionally, Bannwarth said adapting to the different styles of the director and the choreographers has been challenging.

“It’s great getting to have new experiences, though,” he said.

Jessica Petrie, the public relations manager with the Ordway, said “A Christmas Story” will offer fun, family memories this holiday season.

“It’s basically the movie that we all know and love, but with song and dance,” she said. “You will have the same feeling that you get every time you watch the movie.”

“You can come and have a really good holiday evening.”

“A Christmas Story” will run Nov. 29 to Dec. 28 at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts, 345 Washington Street in St. Paul. Ticket information can be found online at www.ordway.org.

Read the online version of the article here.

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